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updated: 10/4/2013 10:11 PM

McHenry Co. youths joining 4-H members to celebrate organization

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Submitted by University of Illinois Extension

McHenry County youths are joining the more than 7 million other 4-H members across the nation in celebration of National 4-H Week Oct. 6-12.

The McHenry County program reaches more than 799 youth and 262 volunteer leaders in organized community clubs operating in all areas of the county.

Last year, 799 young people in McHenry County, ranging in age from 5 to 18, were involved in 4-H community clubs where, assisted by volunteer adult leaders, they learned about projects, careers, leadership and public speaking. 4-H club members also support their local community through service projects, said Cindy Sarkady, Extension 4-H educator, and Janine Heidke, Extension 4-H coordinator for the 4-H youth program locally.

"We have concrete, independent research which proves the positive impact of 4-H membership on the lives of young people," Sarkady said. "4-H members are nearly three times more likely to spend time exercising or being physically active than non 4-H members and have significantly lower drug, alcohol and cigarette use than their peers.

"4-Hers are nearly five times more likely to graduate from college and nearly two times more likely to pursue a career in science, engineering, or computer technology," Sarkady said.

The Tufts University study also showed 4-H youth are nearly two times more likely to actively contribute to their community when compared with non 4-H youth, Heidke said. "4-Hers are two and one halftimes more likely to participate in civic activities."

McHenry County residents only need to look at this year's graduating 4-H seniors to see the truth in these national statistics.

For information on 4-H in McHenry County, stop by the University of Illinois Extension Office at 1102 McConnell Road in Woodstock, call (815) 338-3737, or email Cindy Sarkady, 4-H Youth Educator, at csarkady@illinois.edu, or Janine Heidke, 4-H Youth Coordinator, at jheidke@illinois.edu.

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